There’s you, your bank statement and the boatload of stress as you fret about all the “nice to have” (read: impulsive) purchases you make in a given month. But before you beat yourself up over the $42 you spent at the florist or the $150 you shelled out for a new pair of sneakers, consider reframing your shopping habits with a new tactic: The $1 rule.
Bernadette Joy, founder of Crush Your Money Goals, coined the savings approach: The $1 rule is basically the idea that the cost per use of all non-essential purchases should be equivalent to $1 or less. Take that pair of sneakers: If they’re $150, but you know you’ll wear them 150 times before you retire them, then go forth, buy them, enjoy. But if you’ll wear them way less than that, then you may want to reconsider.
Here’s why this way of thinking is helpful for your finances: For one thing, it helps you determine the worth of an item before you decide to buy it. It also helps you expect and prioritize quality from the items you do buy…and determine when something’s just not worth it.
For instance, that $23 bouquet of blooms sure was beautiful, but if they’re only going to last a week, the cost per use just doesn’t add up.
Of course even Joy admits that the $1 rule doesn’t work for everything and is best applied to purchases that are non-essential, non-special occasion and simply nice to have: Home goods, a new spring dress, trendy accessories, etc. (Good luck getting a $1/day of use out of your wedding dress or those airline tickets to Portugal.)
But ultimately, it’s designed to help you whittle down frivolous spending and feel good about the investments, large and small, you choose to make.